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Chiang's Armor
By William Sariego
May 2012

China operates in a unique fashion in Avalanche Press’s game Great Pacific War. With the Nationalists controlled by the Americans and the Communists by the Soviets, the internal strife that wracked the country in the early 20th century is well represented.

Neither faction has much to brag about in game terms, as infantry are either 1-2 or 2-2 units. Each faction also has some 1-0 garrison units and a 1-4 TAC each. The Nationalists have the chance of getting a serious upgrade to their forces with a political marker that enters the pool in spring 1942. If “Nationalist Training and Equipment” is drawn it enables the U.S. player to upgrade 1-2 Inf to 3-2 (two each time the chit is drawn). This piece of luck can seriously kill Imperial Japan’s hopes of mainland victory.

These meager forces received a boost both in the Player’s Guide and on the Avalanche Press web site. In the Player’s Guide the Nationalists gained a 1 factor SURF unit for use in the “1937: A Sleeping Dragon” scenario. It was certainly justified as China had over 60 maritime vessels — mostly riverine and coastal craft, but also two small modern cruisers and a number of older armored cruisers still in service. Needless to say, the navy did not last long at the mercy of Japan’s air power and many of its warships were intentionally scuttled. For the same scenario the Communists can get a temporary boost to their 1-2 INF due to the Yenan College of Anti-Japanese Agitation. Dr. Bennighof posted an earlier piece on cavalry units in the Third Reich/Great Pacific War system that gave Mao’s warriors two 1-3 CAV units.

Tank commander Deng Hua, later deputy commander
of Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces during the Korean War.

This variant is centered around giving China an armored division. Yes, you can get up off the floor. The fainting spell is understandable, though! In fact, when Japan invaded the Nationalist army had three independant armored battalions. Chiang Kai-Shek was as ignorant of their proper usage as he was of most military matters in general, yet players of Great Pacific War, and Avalanche Press devotees in general, tend to be cut from a different mold.

The armor didn’t amount to much, quite frankly. They were about 150 machine gun-armed tanks, mostly Italian L3/35s, but with a smattering of those neat little British amphibious VCL tankettes and German Mk IA Panzers. The heaviest were some two dozen of the British Vickers Mk 6 (the world’s most popular tank it seems) with a 47mm gun, but armor as weak as that of its lighter comrades. They also had some armored cars, Geman PSW 221s and Soviet BA models. The situation would improve somewhat in 1938. While the West sent a lot of goodwill to China, concrete military aid arrived from the Soviet Union. For our purposes, the 90 T-26/M33 tanks, very similar to the Vickers six-ton, stand out.

Much later, after war became general and more material aid could reach China, American Lend Lease policy would see some older model Stuarts and Shermans sent to the Nationalists. This was only partly to counter the already beaten Japanese, as both Chiang and Roosevelt had their eyes focused on the inevitable post-war showdown between the Nationalist and Communist forces.

The dialectic requires armor!

The mighty Chinese armored armada can be easily adopted into Great Pacific War. Rather than fritter them away as happened historically, the tanks can be concentrated into an armored division, represented by a 1-4 ARM xx counter.

For my 1937 scenario in the Player's Guide, the ARM divison is available in the KMT Force Pool to be built. If destroyed it is removed from play and cannot be rebuilt. If playing a standard scenario from Great Pacific War it becomes a KMT Force Pool addition in 1945.

You can download the new counter here.

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